Abuja – Super Eagles Head Coach Stephen Keshi said on Wednesday that the country had yet to assemble a team for the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) beginning in South Africa in January.
Keshi made the disclosure in Abuja at the team’s interactive session with the media.
According to Keshi, assembling a formidable squad for the competition, holding between Jan. 11 and Feb. 1 had become more difficult following the exodus of Nigerian players to foreign clubs.
“We don’t have a team yet because about 65 to 70 per cent of the players that we are used to have gone.
“So, we are trying to see how we can make the ones we have now fit into the game for us to have a presentable team in South Africa.
“It is difficult to keep these players; there is no way we can keep Kelechi Iheanacho who has gone to Manchester City because there was already a discussion before he came.
“But if there was no discussion before he came to camp, I would not have allowed him to go because we also need him,’’ Keshi said.
He said Azubuike Egwuekwe and a few others would have left the team for foreign clubs if not for the intervention of the technical crew.
Keshi explained that the technical crew had prevailed on the players to stay for the CHAN before leaving for foreign clubs.
The “Big Boss’’, as Keshi is popularly called, said the poor structure of the domestic league and the clubs were responsible for the exodus of the players.
According to him, the home-based Super Eagles are not going to South Africa just to make up the number in spite of their not being ready yet for the championship.
“All these things boil down to our league; if the players are better paid in their clubs, they will not think of leaving because they want to leave.
“If I am being paid N5, 000 here and in Uzbekistan they pay me N20, 000, I will have no option than to leave.
“But if the player is properly paid and on time, he will stay.
“These players have the opportunity to play in the Super Eagles; I am sure a lot of them will want to stay back and grab the opportunity,’’ Keshi said.
The movement of players was a big problem for the national team coaches because they keep seeing new faces every day; it is really tough.’’ (NAN)